Our man on the ground maps out this week's industry winners and losers

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Blue sky thinking

For some, gardening leave is like one long party. Others find themselves under-occupied. A new member of Manchester Underwriting, for instance, enjoyed his six months off, but developed an unusual approach to parenting with all the free time. “I put together a Powerpoint presentation for the kids to inform them about me, their dad,” he said.

A good run

Heroes of the week were Carole Nash boss David Newman and commercial director Simon Jackson. They ran nine miles from their offices to the Biba conference in Manchester, raising money for good causes. So far they have raised £680.

Vorsprung durch struktur

Allianz UK chief executive Andrew Torrance introduced the insurer’s Biba dinner as an informal evening, but warned: “As with all German companies, there will be some structure.” Each course was followed by a round in a highly competitive sport’s quiz – congratulations to John Lincoln from Cobra.

Own goal

Aon president Greg Case had a lesson in the politics of football during his Biba presentation. Brokers lined up to inform the US boss that they were not fans of Manchester United, the club the broker sponsors. Case was forced to admit “soccer” was not his game of choice.

What’s for mains?

Some broking conventions will always remain. A broker at one of several bars at the venue for this year’s Biba conference told me that the four pints he had imbibed by lunchtime were “a mere aperitif”. Another described it as “mouthwash”.

Given the slip

Paul Donaldson of RSA broke off mid-conversation at Biba to make a beeline for the miniature cricket bats and balls available on Amlin’s stand. Perhaps he’s trying to emulate legendary insurance executive Hank Greenberg, who allegedly keeps a baseball bat in his office. If so, he might need a bigger bat.

Off the beaten track

Spare a thought for Ed Stafford, the first person to walk the entire length of the Amazon. He thought he could make it in a year, but only got halfway in that time. That’s when his £16k policy ran out and despite Stafford having a laptop and satellite phone with him, Lloyd’s was unable to renew it electronically.

Luddites united

It’s good to see that it’s not just old insurance duffers like me who are failing to keep up with modern technology. Those of you hoping to catch up with Manchester United legend Denis Irwin online will be disappointed. “I don’t tweet,” he declared at an Aon Benfield Analytics dinner last week.

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